Sunday, May 29, 2011

Padley Gorge

A purple blanket of heather covers the Longshaw moors
Follow the stone path through this ancient wooded gorge and feel centuries of history beneath your feet and overhead. Padley Gorge is one of the finest remaining examples of oak and birch woodland that once covered many Dark Peak valleys.
Down below, Burbage Brook – the largest water course running through the Longshaw estate – tumbles over the massive boulders beneath. This is a popular spot for walkers, picnickers and families in all seasons but beware! – it is also a prized habitat for many small creatures from rare birds to hairy ants which have contributed to its designation as a site of special scientific interest.
Padley Gorge is one of the finest remaining examples of the oak/birch woodland once characteristic of the edges and valley sides of the Dark Peak. The woodland mainly consists of sessile oak and birch with alder along the stream side and holly and rowan scattered throughout the remainder of the wood. Padley Gorge is a very popular spot for picnics in summer and school holidays. Burbage Brook is the largest water course running through Longshaw and has cut into the main valley side to create Padley Gorge. Its source is 1,400ft (427m) up on the Hathersage and Burbage Moors

The history information below is for the whole area of Longshaw.
Victorian tourists crossing Longshaw Pond in a rowing boat
Archaeologists argue about the origins of the stone circle on Lawrence field at the north-west corner of the estate, though most agree there is evidence of tree clearance and enclosures dating certainly to the Vikings and possibly as far back as the Bronze Age.

Longshaw - literally ‘long wood’ - Lodge was built as a shooting box for the then Duke of Rutland. Over the centuries the area has been a centre for charcoal burning to provide fuel for Sheffield’s smelting industries and millstone quarrying for the local cotton and woollen mills. In the early 20th century it provided stone for the reservoir dams in nearby Derwent Valley. It has also been an important trading route for salt, silk, wool, and lead. 


Over 360 million years ago the Peak District lay under a shallow subterranean sea as a coral reef. The limestone that is synonymous with the White Peak area was formed by the millions of sea creatures, plants and shells of this early existence. Around 280 million years ago, gritstone was formed in the Dark Peak area by deposits of sand and mud residue when it became a vast river estuary. On the surface the rain and ice had weathered away the softer areas of the reef into glacial meltwaters creating dramatic gorges and valleys filled with caves, whilst leaving harder reef areas of limestone forming the protruding crags and outcrops that are scattered across the landscape. The earliest human settlers came to the Peak District 10,000 years ago. Living in caves, co-existing with the woolly rhinoceros, arctic fox, lynx and cave lion, they began shaping the landscape. Without them the Peak District might still be covered entirely in woodland.